UPDATED: Young Man Brutally Beaten at Rock The South Festival

photo: Kaci Howard

UPDATE 7/26: Three men have been arrested in connection with the brutal beating of 18-year-old Reid Watts on Saturday evening (7-22) at the Rock The South Festival in Cullman, Alabama. William Joseph Vinson Jr. (20) of Harvest; Zachary Scott Taylor (21) of Athens, and Chance Marcus Alan Starling (20) of Toney were all charged with second degree assault, which is a felony.

All three men were arrested on Tuesday (7-25) in Madison County, Alabama, and later posted bail. The charge carries a penalty between 1 and 10 years in prison.

“Nothing can really justify something like that, but in this particular incident, it was something that shouldn’t normally rise to the level of violence,” Cullman Police Chief David Nassetta said. “And it speaks to the level of character of these individuals we arrested.”

Reid Watts has now been discharged from the hospital.

Original Story Below:

This weekend’s Rock The South country music festival in Cullman, Alabama was supposed to be a joyous occasion, with performers Chris Stapleton, Zach Bryan, Cody Johnson, Riley Green, Travis Tritt, The Red Clay Strays, Drake Milligan, J.R. Carroll, and more taking the stage. And it was a joyous occasion most of the time, and for most patrons.

But for 18-year-old Reid Watts, it’s a different story. On Saturday evening (7-22), Watts was brutally beaten by numerous individuals after he and his girlfriend got in an altercation with another group of concertgoers who accused them of spilling drinks.

“They came up behind him and struck him and just started beating him until he was unconscious, and stomping his head in with their boots,” says girlfriend Katie Faye Hudgins. “I was just screaming, I was screaming for people to help. And I looked up and I didn’t see anybody, and I was laying there screaming bloody murder for people to come help me.”

Reid was beaten unconscious, and eventually hospitalized with a concussion, a fractured nose, and other injuries due to the assault. Reid’s mother, Kaci Howard, took to social media, pleading for individuals to come forward and help find the perpetrators.

“PLEASE help me find the cowards who did this to my son tonight at Rock the South. There were several grown men (30s-40s) who jumped on him and beat him unconscious while his girlfriend stood there screaming and crying for help,” Howard stated.

“They continued beating him while he was on the ground until security finally got to them and got Reid and Katie out of there and to an ambulance. He has a fractured nose, concussion, stitches, knots the size of softballs on the back of his head. He never even saw it coming. They jumped on him out of nowhere because one of them said he spilled a drink on him. Reid didn’t even have a drink in his hand. Anyone who’s ever met Reid knows his personality. He never meets a stranger, he can literally get along with anyone. He is a good kid and he did not deserve this. PLEASE share and help me find who’s responsible.”

Howard also shared a video of the assault.

Rock the South organizers have stepped up and are offering a $10,000 reward, plus lifetime tickets to the event for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the assault. Cullman, Alabama police had also solicited the public for information. By late Monday morning (7-24), local police said they expected charges to be filed soon, and are asking for only people who were direct witnesses to the assault to continue to come forward.

Rock The South is an independent country music festival that was founded after tornadoes ravaged the Cullman, Alabama area in 2011. Since then, the event has raised nearly a million dollars for the local community. Though in the past the festival has featured big mainstream acts such as Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, and Florida-Georgia Line, this year’s lineup had a more independent country approach.

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